Sunday 30 July 2023

Summer Quiz

 Todays object is colloquially called 'treen'. The word treen derives from the word tree and it is the term used to describe everyday wooden objects. Each of them has been turned out of one piece of wood, for example a bowl, a plate, a gingerbread mould, or a spoon, each of them having a domestic function. However, when we talk about antique treen, today that tends to cover the smaller more collectible wooden or cocquilla nut carved items e.g. antique snuff boxes, small candle stands, kitchen spice towers etc. A perfect example, that I showed on a previous quiz, is my own small Georgian nutmeg grater carved out of a cocquilla nut.

Small items such as these which have been painstakingly carved, handled, polished and loved, often dating from the Georgian period, have developed a wonderful colour and patination.

The quiz object is dated to the mid 1800s, and is slightly smaller than shown in the photo. Carved out of boxwood, the top unscrews. The handle is attached to a long screw with a disc at the ending and there is a small hole at the end of the small spout, but what is the objects use?

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Thursday 20 July 2023

Farnborough Hall.........

........ is a honey coloured country house built in 1692 by William Holbech, and although now owned by the NT, it is still administered and lived in by members of the Holbech family. We discovered this exquisite property late in the day arriving just one hour before it closed. We would have been really disappointed if we had arrived after closing time - it is only open for two afternoons per week.

Come join me and wander along its elegant driveway which leads to the front of the property. Built in the Carolean style, the house is surrounded by beautiful gardens and a wonderful landscape. 

There are no photos allowed of the inside - this is courtesy the NT. However, it does show some of the exquisite plasterwork, plus the homely domestic scale of the property. The room originally had five Canaletto's on the walls, but the paintings seen today are copies which were done by a Chinese painter in the 1920s. The original Canalletos were all sold to cover death duties.

A cloud hedge separates the terrace, and formal gardens from the surrounding parkland. The 500 acres are a rare examaple of a ferme ornée, or ornamental farm. The style was devised by English garden designer Stephen Switzer in 1742 and described as 'an ornamental landscape within a traditional working farm'. The S shape of the lake gives the impression of a meandering river. There is a walk around the parkland giving views across the landscape from an 18-metre-high obelisk, an oval pavillion

 and an Ionic temple. 

Roses and lavender scent the air, a tranquil spot in which to enjoy the surroundings, and view the summer flowers.

We made our way back via Banbury to the old inn where we were staying.

Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse; 
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
She shall have music wherever she goes.

Thursday 6 July 2023

Home Sweet Home

We have been roaming around part of the British countryside and finding much that we have enjoyed. We explored some of the hidden highways and byeways of Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. Most of the architecture in the area is built of ironstone formed during the early Jurassic period. Ironstone has a much darker rusty hue in contrast to the more creamy coloured oolitic limestone that we are more familiar with in our Cotswold landscape.

We stayed at a really quaint ironstone built 16th century inn, having exposed beams, flagstone floors, and a steep winding stairway.

We explored a small section of the Oxford Canal system.

Saw some lovely gardens filled with lots of beautiful summer flowers.

Hollyhocks - Delphiniums & Martagon Lilies 

Visited some grand country houses

We fell in love with Farnborough Hall with its beautiful interior of exquisite plasterwork, and wonderful stairway topped by a stained glass dome.  The house is built in the Carolean style, a style that became popular in England during the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 under Charles II until the late 1680s. Although this property was less than 10 miles from the ironstone built inn we stayed at in Warwickshire, this property is built of the golden stone commonly seen in Oxfordshire.

One of the other properties visited had a first class gallery filled with many fine paintings, and some of great reknown.

Hieronymus Bosch - The Adoration of the Magi (Triptych)

We were very excited to see three flocks of Skylarks - Alauda arvensis, especially so as the Skylark now sits on the UK Red List.  They are one of our most celebrated birds, in literature, poetry, art and music. 

We were having a picnic down a narrow country lane, and were greatly entertained by a Hobby - Falco subbuteo darting backwards and forwards across the meadow as it caught insects and dragonflies on the wing. Apparently there is good news re: Hobbies, as the population has grown significantly due, it is thought, to the UK's warming climate.

More to come once I have sorted myself out, we have a very special celebration coming up which is currently tending to occupy my mind.